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A 1-minute crash course on the difference between “branding” and “identity”

July 23, 2020
Brand strategy

Brand. Identity. They’re terms that can be confusing, in large part because they’re often used interchangeably, or just combined into a single unit – “brand identity.”

The two terms are definitely related, but also different. Here’s a quick look at how we talk about these terms in the Office of Strategic Marketing and Branding.

A brand is how an organization or corporation is perceived. In our case, it's the collection of ideas and feelings our key audiences have about the U of I. The brand exists, whether or not it is intentionally shaped.

Branding is the process of building and shaping a brand to ensure that the audience’s perception is true to the core values and character of the organization. Strategy is involved in the uncovering and articulation of those values and what sets apart an organization. (You can see the foundation of our brand strategy work in this section of our brand guide. Be sure to check out the "brand essence wheel at the bottom of the page.)

Brand identity is the collection of tangible elements that help embody, express and shape the brand. Things like logos, photography styles and brand voice fall in this category.

For the past 10 or so months, the strategic marketing and branding team has been working through on the branding process and developing a unified brand identity, which you can explore in the brand guide. We’re here to answer questions and support all of you on the marketing and branding journey that lies ahead of us.